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tv   Tim Kraft on the History of the Iowa Caucuses  CSPAN  January 31, 2016 10:20am-10:55am EST

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>> next, a keynote address of a conference of the at the history of violent caucuses. was the iowa caucus campaign manager for jim carter in 1976. the story of carter posit i will victories compared to the more recent iowa caucuses, arguing candidates now sometimes spend more money on one event than carter spent for his entire iowa effort. herbert hoover library hosted this talk about 30 minutes. >> our keynote speaker is tim kraft, a retired political advisor from new mexico who came to visit us today.
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he received his degree from dartmouth college in 1963 and did graduate studies at georgetown university. he helped organize the carter campaign for the iowa caucuses before going on to organize for carter in other key nominating states. lighthouse services after carter won the election in .970's as a special assistant he originally supervised the latee of scheduling and in ft's title,kra changed and he became the assistant to the president or presidential personal and presidential messages. in 1979, the white house announced that kraft was leaving to join the campaign committee as campaign manager. us kraft will be speaking to both about his role in helping caucuses as well
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as his observations about the role of the caucuses more generally. mr. tim kraft. [applause] tim kraft: thank you, cary. i am honored to be here. but i am surprised to be here. the last event i keynoted was 20 years ago at a bachelor party. [laughter] that was when responsible drinking meant don't spill any. [laughter] i moved to new mexico in 1971. a state whose nomination politics are colorful, chaotic, and corrupt. partially correct.
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in 1972, lobbyists in santa fe pulled their re--- their forces, raised money and managed to get on theail waitress primary ballot for democratic nomination for u.s. senator. in of a feel of 16, she came third. if her last name had been sparkle montoya, she might have won it. the fellow who won the nomination was an insurance salesman from the southern half of the state, an enterprising young fellow by the name of jack daniels. talk about name recognition. mexican republicans had their act together and nominated a young city councilman from , and he went on to win the senate seat and served there for 50 years or so it
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seems to the democrats. respect for our host and the fine library, i read a biography of herbert hoover. there are a few similarities in his life to that of the president for whom i worked. policy, but aon few. they were both elected and their 50's. they both left office in the 50's. they both served their country in humanitarian and civic capacities after leaving office. they were both conservationists, and avid fly fisherman. i'm running out of laertes. reached, they both their 90's. you have got to hand it to president hoover for a great parting shot at when asked how he managed to endure the many years of political leaders treating him like a prior, -- like a pariah, he said "i
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-- bast the masters ards." it is an interesting book. written by various journalists, biographers, historians, it is called the american presidents series, put together in a publishing house. i could not recommend it more. it is a spotlight of history through the eyes of a president. fascinating reading. by design, they asked the office to keep the biographies within 300 pages. onto to the topic of the day, caucuses. caucuses as defined by wikipedia. a scheduled refuge -- ritual wherein politically ordered native -- assembled together on a weekday night and drink way too much. [laughter]
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i am sorry, that is back in new mexico. does everybody know the difference between a caucus and a cactus? we have better save that for the forms. regard to the iowa caucuses, their history and evolution, there is no one on the planet earth who has been more involved in more responsible than the creation and monitoring of the process, richard formally with the iowa party and for many years with senator tom harkin. beis with us today and will the wikipedia on the panel that will meet on caucus politics and organization. journalism, that is greek for old man, wherever you are, david is also with us today
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and on the media panel, we can only hope he will go off the and tell us as much as he can about those campaigns he could not good at the time. in iowa caucuses have become the short span of 40 years in american politics, a multifaceted phenomenon and certainly one of the most interesting dynamics in the candidate media relationship. behind the observation is the paradox that campaigns do not come to iowa for delicate accumulation. we know the present caucuses are just the first inconclusive step in a month-long process. caucus winners would probably to 55% of to get 35 iowa's national delegates at the national convention. come to iowa after the and 1976 because it is first step, however small.
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it has become the national media's starting point. there is no magical electability winning theted with caucuses. since 1972, there have been nine contested caucuses in the democratic party. thehese, the winner of caucuses has gone on to be the democratic nominee five times. two went on to win the presidency, jimmy carter and barack obama. 1976, there have been seven contested caucuses in the republican party. the letters became the party's nominee. two went on to win the white house. gerald lord and george w. bush. the odds it would seem are not overwhelming. but here is a fact probably savored by some anonymous state senator out there in the country. a young person with no money or
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ambition, two of the longest longshots in american political history begin their political careers in their respective state senate. they won the caucuses in iowa and went on to win the white house. the longshots would be jimmy carter and barack obama. point to me is the longshot victories leading to the white house even including getting to the , occurred onlye in the democratic party. republicans like to shake things up with huckabee or santorum, but the national party eventually turns to a more established national figure for the nomination. at this point, i would like to horse and buggy operation that was the carter campaign in 1975 and 1976.
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the experience offers a vivid contrast between then and now that frankly, i think for one brief moment in time, it was an almost too good to be true model of what a long shot should do. carter,look briefly at the media factor, and organization. to say for starters, i have worked in campaigns at the county congressional district. national, andl, international level. in the 1975, 1976 carter theaign, that was by far best campaign i had ever worked on. jimmy carter gave the campaign purpose, energy, confidence, and discipline. it went to headquarters skillfully managed the slender allocation of resources. the organization was slowly and carefully assembled and fully
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supported by atlanta in the two andpeople in atlanta campaign manager, jody, press secretary, work together in professional tandem, each taking care of his job in helping the other when necessary. ours was a campaign entirely staff posturing. i have seen a boatload of those over the years. never in a carter campaign would that be allowed to happen. in those years, there were no cell phones, no texting, no e-mails, no word processors, no teleconferences, and people typed out field reports and mailed them to atlanta. they moved around with pockets full of quarters to be able to respond to the campaign manager if he or she had left work with somebody else to call in. at the end of 1975, there were
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them, three national field coordinators working in three key states. december of 1975. i was working in iowa. chris brown was working in new hampshire, and a hometown -- hometown friend of carter's was in florida. in iowa, the opposition was better finance and far better-known. carter started out after his of 1970ment in january five at about 1% in national name recognition. our opponents were congressmen, and another former governor. they had large staffs, media connections, and more money, or more access to ready money. to complete the circle, an early call from hamilton to the iowa state democratic chairman resulted in skipping the caucus.
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the message was that i will would not be receptive to it warmer georgia governor. add that warning was not imposed on the iowa's democratic party staff, which already in 1975 had a reputation for confidence and professionalism. i can tell you firsthand they were not only impartial, but helpful in any legitimate inquiry in procedure. ask a question and you will get a professional answer. why did carter decide to contest caucuses in 1976? a lot of people will say the campaign picked up on the effort of 1972, a foot caucuses could yield. 60% of the carter rationale coming to iowa. know,t people in the room
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the senator has been a second to caucuses in 1972. he was also the presumed democratic nominee in the media. also, in a rare instance where matters, he was endorsed. time ising issue of the the war of the anon. he worked hard in iowa in 1971 and 1972. that weather mainly in the northwest. people turned out in droves all of the state. the result is a close second for the supposedly longshot. he reported that the musty bandwagon ran often icy road in
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iowa last night, the campaign manager wrote in a subsequent book that we sweated blood for that one sentence. when johnny apple and new york times gave a glowing account of the governor's strength, that was noticed in atlanta, georgia, as well. have contested iowa no matter what. but his campaign was not unaware of the boost. when i was departing in atlanta in's ever-glory of 1975, having just and hired, my assignment was basically fund-raising in the west trying to secure the federal matching funds in 10 western states. hamilton told me fund-raising aside, whatever you get on a plane in outlook turkey make sure you fly through iowa. truth be known, i was the occupied with fund-raising and only made sporadic trips in
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spring of 1975. was looking for people who commit to serve on a statewide committee. a group of respected caucus perspectives who would give a statewide identity. i headquarter names to begin with with folks in burlington, red oak, and just two of these individuals had caucus experience. these folks and a friend to help me find even more inands who would volunteer 1975 and 1976. principlehe first political organization. yell for help. island statenative campaign manager and i thought i had one in a smart and low-key mid-iowa.om he committed to carter but did not want the job. in late august of 1975, hamilton
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instructed me to move to iowa, permanently, and so i did. what happens when you drop a former cute -- hoosier, more recently new mexican, in the middle file in the fall of 1975? i had the instinctive feeling that in this neighborhood oriented political process, our best chance for any kind of success would be islands talking to islands. owans talking to iowans. there were two friends in new mexico and one in atlanta that would come to iowa to be a part of the field staff in the state. womand instead a young from the county supervisors is with usrie, who
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here today. i will ask her to raise her hand but she probably will not. [applause] out, without hyperbole, the steel of the decade. she in turn helped me higher over the next six weeks two eventually the staff was one full time person, all natives for each congressional district. my italian friends on the south side said they had it wired tighter than a drum. [laughter] headquarters. we would go all out and cover every precinct in the state. i entirely on heard one of the opponents campaign managers say they were targeting counters -- north of i-80.
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that would never fly in the carter approach. while carter himself may have done the full grassley in rick i know thatords, his family and friends in georgia did cover 99 counties between september and january. carter's hands on campaigning with a tough eight years in georgia prepared him well for iowa. he was punctual to a fault. the quality that i always appreciated and that most of our members of opponent did not see the apparent value of. may expect to see this 30 minutes late but they do not necessarily appreciate it. aroundas a story going that a charismatic campaigner from indiana who is chronically along with the congressional behindues, chronically
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schedule. was leaving. he in red oak, iowa. person fromtaff washington in a rented car got turned around in the late mapquest, no gps, no cell phone to check up on things, not even good notes. finally comes to what appears to be the fork in the road. one veered off to the left. one went straight. and what to do. farmer leaving the field and locking up the field gate rolled said we aredow and
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whatng late does it matter road i take question mark you looked at him and said, not to me, it don't. [laughter] carter would also call folks we were recruiting. and he and carter would take calls at home. it is not an exaggeration. timeemember, this is the he was running full-fledged campaigns in new hampshire and florida. other candidates do not make calls or perhaps right notes but none to the degree that carter did in 1975. folks which usually has problems, worked well in 1975 and 19 evan is next.
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i was given a tremendous amount of leeway. we did not have any superstars. we did not have consultants. you can recall and arrogant or superior attitude. certainly, in their minds. a choice example of this came up with a campaign in 1975. there was a large event planned in the eastern part, practically on the river. aide and the davenport -- davenport coordinator to share some time with candidates. where they would be a quick 20 in the across the bridge
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event. the pilot, the staffer found out they had been instructed to land in a small airstrip. determined just up the road from the event. nobodyand argued that called headquarters in washington and somebody back in ambassador isd, going to iowa and not illinois. by the time the staffer got the car, folks were restless in devon work. i know these things can happen to anybody but they seem to have been mostly in campaigns in to theproportion national staff. it happened in space with the caucus campaign of 1988, from what i can observe.
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wondering about those first campaigns in the 1970's. i have a call from a national 2008 with at question. she said hillary clinton spent $25,000 on a free barbecue lunch for a tricounty there in iowa or we had everred if spent a similar amount for free events. i told her her first operating toget to iowa submitted atlanta was $18,000 and $20. for the entire campaign. you have to marvel at present-day budgets. including the 2008 campaign manager for obama beginning in iowa for limiters. for everyone coordinator for every 24 precincts.
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two staff salaries at national headquarters level would have outlay.ur entire iowa if we get campaign spending discussions, i would be interested to learn what george h.w. bush spent in iowa in 1980 with their old successful campaign, or mitt romney in 2008, compared to mike huckabee 's outlay again in 2012. contrast between past and current campaigns in the democratic party is the jefferson jackson day event then and now. the carter campaign may have been the first to truly capitalize on the event. i am not certain that this event does not loom large in the account of their campaign. a giant bull's-eye for me and my staff. it gave our committee members a
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specific project to focus on. there was a des moines register straw poll in the works in any longshot should have a strategy for that. and three, jimmy carter through rosary -- rose carter would 1975d the rare event in because they were usually covering different campaigns in different states and were rarely together. and aside, we loved her feared him. flurry to our growing members across the state. you have to be there. we concocted all sorts of visibility tricks and staked out the artery him. friends from kansas and omaha came through with oversized buttons and balloons.
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we won the contest and the straw poll. stand victory. carter on theut front page of the new york times above the fold, a great picture and the headline, carter seems to hold a big lead in iowa as caucuses approach. in des moines, lori and i and our staff were unaware of the ripple effects of the article. to tell you the truth, we were surprised to have not one, but two national reporters drop by the office next day. we thought we were invisible. fuel innt was a rocket florida. it expanded the effort over new territory. is it has ever been as important as the network news comment that
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gary hart had written about. thank you iowa state democratic party. thank you, the des moines register, and thank you to the of 1975, the carter statewide steering committee. i have no way of knowing if barack obama and david poof would recall this particular event, but they did focus in a major way on the dinner. small difference is they for this one,000 event and they had a rock star concert to kick it off and employed more staff support them the super bowl halftime show to see it through. to theublican equivalent democrats dinner would probably be the state republican parties -- party's poll. a weird ceremony, a combination
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rally, pr stunt, and mating ritual. [laughter] it has meaningd, " because a political community gave it meaning." the implication being if you blow it off, it would appear you do not care that much about contesting. the 2000 republican straw poll, the word budget was not even in the mix. a jerry bild,ad prehistoric -- three-story tent with gourmet food. karl rove boasted of hauling people across the state. " in a fleet of buses, it would rival greyhound." a campsite for $43,000. the straw poll in the republican caucus in 2000. you areeanni murray,
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late. [laughter] report to the hallway monitor. i will pay for that. it does not take a long walk down memory lane to illustrate the change and the scope of campaigns in iowa. more outside staffers and consultants get here earlier and earlier. the growth of money spent both by campaigns and by those who cover them appears to be staggering. i would hope one or two constants about the process in iowa might survive and prevail make the candidates come out from behind media bubbles and actually be and two,e to people, allow counties and precincts to pretty much retain control of and run their own caucus. 1980d to a reporter in that our good luck in caucuses
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is based directly on the campaign approach of violence talking to islands. the obama campaign manager used practically the same words in his 2010 book about their campaign. secret tothe real obama''s was in the early strategic analysis that they would have to "expand the universe are co- universe." put in an extraordinary effort into new registrations and even republican converts to achieve new turnout records and 2008.raordinary upset in a political operative with i'm sure many people are familiar, said this about success in islet in a recent new york times article. there is no magic elixir.
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it is a combination of real hard work, organizing, and connecting with islands where they are. he did not specify. that seems to me to be good bipartisan advice in a nutshell. and on a miss -- an ominous cloud over our process. citizens united, it could be a number of things. the chance for an average citizen to pose a question -- pose a question or meet a presidential candidate is winnowing rapidly down to the elite fundraisers and part -- fundraisers and party. this explains the apathy of our nonvoting citizens, typically our younger nonvoting citizens. every four years, the carping criticisms of the
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nonrepresentational democratics of iowa and new hampshire. i do not buy that. i think these states are the last vestiges of grassroots deliberation in local citizen debate. we would head into the lala land and budgetod fights busters, longtime millionaires only need apply. if we succumb to change for change's sake. utopia, i hope for two to survive, one, that islands continue to shrug off the excesses of negative media campaigns. two,luck with that, and the precinct chairs to fort madison continue to run their own political business on caucus night. obligated to hear where the 23-year-old first-time campaign coordinator fresh in from newark, new jersey, sent in
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by the national staff, to make sure they get it right. with that senior moment observation, i yield back the floor. thank you very much. [applause] >> up next, the herbert hoover presidential library hosted a discussion on the evolution and significance of the iowa caucuses. from the perspective of two former campaign managers, eric woolson and jeani murray. they are joined by richard bender. the discussion is about 75 minutes.

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